California

Abstracts from LA’s freeways

HOV lane on the 405 - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I spent a bit of time as a passenger traversing the interstate freeways that wind through, over and around Los Angeles during our visit there last week.  Along the way, my twitchy camera finger got the best of me and I ended up getting pulled into the patterns and chaos realized with the help of longer exposures.

Dusk over toll road 73 - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Past one exit and onto another - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I like playing around to see what can be created as the landscape slides by.  With dusk falling in, the warm light played well with the colours in the signs and the vehicles.  Lot’s to play with, not much time to do it though.  It makes it easy to not get stuck on any one subject!  I do really like trying to compose at speed and imagine how the image will look.

Driving by sunset in Laguna - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When we exited onto the Pacific Coast Highway, which is more like a city street than a highway, the speeds slowed down which allowed for more intentional image making in a way.  I liked the sunset image above but grew bored and introduced camera movements to create crazy lines from the lights standing out now against the dark surroundings.  Things started out relatively controlled but then…

Off ramp motion - 2013 © Christopher Martin

… things got a little more wild before the ride ended.

Californian night lights - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We caught the last light on the west coast from our balcony overlooking Aliso Beach.

Over Aliso Beach and on to sunset - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Dive bombers: Pelicans fishing in Laguna

A pelican's dive - 2013 © Christopher Martin

While in California last week, every morning flights of Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) would glide over the water off of Aliso Beach in Laguna.  A few of these would peel off and spiral up into the sky and then widen their circles while watching the water from high above.  The last time I photographed Brown pelicans was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a couple of years ago.  I did not have the opportunity to watch those pelicans fish in the ocean so Laguna with its dive-bombing birds was a lot of fun for me.

Flying forward - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Fish finding - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Dive prep - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When a target was found they would point directly down and plunge towards the ocean.

Diving for fish - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Most of these dives resulted in the bird completely disappearing underwater for a second or two.  More often than not a fish was caught between the chopsticks of the bird’s beak.

Resurfacing - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The seals were drawn to the same schools of fish so there were some neat moments with them close to a bird either going for a fish close-by or maybe even thieving one from the pelican.

Pelican flight and seal leap - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I love watching these pelicans glide over the water.  Often, they will skim a few inches above the surface for several hundred yards between wing beats.  They will fly alone, in pairs or larger flocks all following the same path.

Ground effects - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Ocean peloton - 2013 © Christopher Martin

They are great fliers which is most obvious during the exciting dives as they pin wheel and then dive.  When they launch out of the water, the power and skill flying that they command are on display as well.

First flap out of the water - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Into the air - 2013 © Christopher Martin

2013 © Christopher Martin

I could spend a lot of time photographing these birds.  They are graceful gliders, spectacular divers and great fishers.  They present great opportunities for the photographer – including a little hide-and-seek!

Hide-and-seek - 2013 © Christopher Martin


La Jolla Sunset

La Jolla Sunset - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We are on the coast of Southern California for a short vacation.  Legoland is the destination today for the family and my building-obsessed son.  Last night, I was out exploring the beach cities north of San Diego and we photographed the sunset on the coastline in La Jolla.  The light was beautiful and the rocky coastline provided a wonderful landscape to work with.  There are surfers, pelicans and seals all waiting to be photographed, I’m excited to find a few more opportunities.